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While billionaire tech entrepreneur and star of ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank” Mark Cuban is constantly checking his emails, 16 hours a day, he’s much stricter when it comes to his kids’ use of technology.
That’s because, he says, he knows too much.
“The more you know about technology, the more experiences you’ve had, and the more exposures you’ve had to the pluses and minuses,” said Cuban, in a recent conversation with Arianna Huffington on The Thrive Global Podcast. “Obviously, once you see the downside, you try to protect your children from it.”
Cuban makes his 13-year-old daughter, Alexis, turn in her phone at 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on weekends. If the teen has a friend over, then Cuban won’t make his daughter give up her phone, but he has installed an in-home workaround.
“I have installed Cisco routers … I have management software. So, it says what apps they’re using so I can shut off their phone activity,” says Cuban. “I’m sneaky as can be. And she hates it. That’s the downside of having a geeky dad, you know. I can figure all this stuff out.”
It also helps him keep tabs on his daughter’s hours watching Netflix. He used to make his daughter “earn” Netflix hours. Then, Alexis got another password for Netflix from her friend.
“I kind of got preempted. And so I caught onto that very quickly, obviously, and then I introduced this,” referring to the router solution, said Cuban.
He doesn’t mind the maneuvers he has to make to keep his kids from being obsessed with their screens. He’s a hacker at heart. “So, I try to stay one step ahead, and it’s good for me, too, because it keeps me abreast of all the new apps and all the new technology.”
“I’M SNEAKY AS CAN BE. AND [MY DAUGHTER] HATES IT. THAT’S THE DOWNSIDE OF HAVING A GEEKY DAD, YOU KNOW. I CAN FIGURE ALL THIS STUFF OUT.”
Sometimes, though, Cuban resorts to cash to get his kids away from their devices. Cuban has three kids, two daughters — Alexis and Alyssa, 10 — and a son, Jake, who was born in 2010.
Jake loves watching videos from the game Minecraft, a game that Cuban said can be “intellectually stimulating.” However, Jake will watch Minecraft videos ad infinitum.
“I’m not going to lie, I paid my son $150 to not watch those videos for two months,” said Cuban. “But he could earn if he watched math videos, or did math problems for me, he could earn time to watch Minecraft videos.”
The deal, he admitted, sometimes annoys Jake, but Cuban says he’s doing the best he can. And even for a tech titan, raising kids in the current generation of connected everything, all the time, everywhere, is a challenge.
“The hard part is getting them to read. Like I love to read the newspaper. I saw my dad read the newspaper. My mom read the newspaper. And it became a normal course of keeping up with things,” said Cuban.
“Now my daughter tries to say discovery on Snapchat is keeping up. I’m on Snapchat, I get to see the discover right? It’s not the same,” he added.
“It’s okay way to keep up, but trying to get them to engage and learn more outside of school is a challenge. Now it’s that way for every 13-year-old regardless of what decade you live in or were born in, but trying to push them in that direction — there’s no easy solution,” the billionaire said.
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